LA CROSSE, Wis. -

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) says there were 601 traffic deaths in 2012. That's 36 more, or about 6-percent higher, than 2011.

WisDOT says the number of fatalities ended a four-year streak of fewer than 600 annual traffic deaths. Before 2008 to 2011, the last time the state had four consecutive years of fewer than 600 traffic deaths was from 1924-1927.

In 2012, 101 motorcyclists died, as well as 13 motorcycle passengers, 44 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists.

Wisconsin State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable said more than 80-percent of the motorcyclists who died in crashes last year did not wear helmets.

There was also a 37-percent increase in fatalities for passengers in automobiles and light trucks, according to the state patrol.

"The significant increase in passengers' deaths indicates that there were far too many vehicle occupants who likely died because they were not wearing safety belts and consequently were ejected from their vehicle or thrown around violently inside it in crashes," said Major Huxtable.

Huxtable says Wisconsin’s seatbelt use rate is 80-percent, while the neighboring states have safety belt use rates of more than 90-percent. The national average is 86-percent.

"We must do everything we can to drive and ride responsibly and safely, every trip, every time, so we can one day reach zero preventable deaths in Wisconsin," Major Huxtable said.